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by
Bryan Preston

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December 13, 2012 - 12:44 pm

This is not a post on Infowars, but it’s going to sound and feel like one. The Wall Street Journal has learned that in February of 2012, US Attorney General Eric Holder approved a proposal proffered by the National Counterterrorism Center that fundamentally changes the American citizens’ relationship with our government. Fundamentally.

The proposal was apparently never put before Congress or debated anywhere outside a close-knit group at the top of the Obama administration. The only reason the change is becoming public now is that the Journal dropped a FOIA on the Obama government and obtained the relevant files.

The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” may be permanently retained.

As if that isn’t bad enough, Holder’s change may put your data in the hands of other governments.

The changes also allow databases of U.S. civilian information to be given to foreign governments for analysis of their own. In effect, U.S. and foreign governments would be using the information to look for clues that people might commit future crimes.

To be clear, this is not Patriot Act activity, and it’s not the same wiretapping that many on the left and some on the right have decried for years. That wiretapping monitored communications between supected terrorists who for the most part were not US citizens and were not in the United States at all. Their calls were routed through switches and servers within the US, though, and there has been a process in place allowing law enforcement or counterrorism agents to listen in on those communications. Holder’s change applies to every US citizen on whom any part of the government has a file. Which is pretty much everyone over the age of 18 and quite a few younger than that.

Congress has spoken on the privacy issue, passing the Federal Privacy Act of 1974. Holder’s change exempts the NCTC.

Under the new rules issued in March, the National Counterterrorism Center, known as NCTC, can obtain almost any database the government collects that it says is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information.” The list could potentially include almost any government database, from financial forms submitted by people seeking federally backed mortgages to the health records of people who sought treatment at Veterans Administration hospitals.

Perhaps Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security has not quite let go of its fear of returning veterans.

We’re obviously past the point where Obama and Holder could have answered for their actions at the ballot box. The divided Congress is unlikely to be able to do anything about it. They can hold hearings, of course, and they should, but Harry Reid has turned the Senate into an adjunct of the West Wing of the White House. Our government is keeping files on all of us and may turn those files over to foreign governments without or knowledge or approval, whether we have ever been suspected of a crime or not. And there is apparently nothing we can do about it.

h/t Hot Air

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.
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